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Director of Lands vs.

of Appeals
G.R. No. 102858, July 28,
276 SCRA 276
Prepared by: Bai Putri Morayah Ala Amil
NDU- College of Law

On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent
Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for original
registration of his title over 648 sq. meters
of land under PD No. 1529.
The application was docketed as Land
Registration Case (LRC) No. 86 and
assigned to Branch 44 of the Regional Trial
Court of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
However, during the pendency of his
petition, applicant died.

His heirs- Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and
Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado represented by
their aunt Josefa Abistado, who was appointed their
guardian ad litem, were substituted as applicants.
The land registration court in its decision dated
June 13, 1989 dismissed the petition for want of
However, it found that the applicants through their
predecessors-in-interest had been in open,
continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of
the subject land since 1938.

Records show that applicants failed
to comply with the provision of Sec.
23(1) of PD 1529 requiring the
applicants to publish the notice of
initial hearing in a newspaper of
general circulation in the Philippines.
The initial hearing was published
only in the Official Gazette.

It bears that the publication requirement under
Section 23 of PD 1529 has a two-fold purpose:
1. Jurisdictional (Official Gazette)
. The court would be powerless to assume
jurisdiction, over a particular land registration
case without publication in the Official Gazette.
2. Procedural (Newspaper of General Circulation)
. Any decision that the court may promulgate in
the case would be legally infirm

The Court of Appeals reversed the
decision of the RTC ruling that the
publication in the newspaper of
general circulation was merely
procedural and that the failure to
cause such publication did not
deprive the trial court of its authority
to grant the application. Hence, this
appeal by certiorari.

Whether or not the land registration
court can validly confirm and register
the title of private respondents in the
absence of publication in a
newspaper of general circulation.

The Supreme Court answered this query in the
negative. This answer is impelled by the
demands of statutory construction and the due
process rationale behind the publication
The law used the term shall in prescribing the
work to be done by the Commissioner of Land
Registration upon the latters receipt of the
court order setting the time for initial hearing.
The said word denotes an imperative and thus
indicates the mandatory character of a statute.

Admittedly, there was a failure to
comply with the explicit publication
requirement of the law.
Statute allows no excuses.
This court has no authority to dispense
with such mandatory requirement.
The law is unambiguous and its
rationale is clear.

Time and again, this Court has declared that
where the law speaks in clear and categorical
language, there is no room for interpretation,
vacillation or equivocation; there is room only
for application.
There is no alternative.
Thus, the application for land registration filed
by private respondents must be dismissed
without prejudice to reapplication in the future,
after all the legal requisites shall have been
duly complied with.